Friday, December 21, 2012


The art work above was created by my brother Kevin Junod years ago for holiday cards sent out to Citibank customers. My brother was thrilled at the time to have been one of the finalists chosen to have his work on the cards.

I can't help but think about what our vision of world peace was back in 1993. Back in 1993 we had a reasonable sense of safety here in America. We fell into a comfortable security that we never dreamed would be interrupted. 

It's been a week since the Newtown, CT tragedy and my heart aches still. So much loss and consuming grief the families must feel. Even in the midst of unspeakable tragedy there are still elements of the best that humanity offers. May God continue to comfort and wrap them in his warm embrace.

Sometimes when something like this happens I think of other parts of the globe that experience this sort of unsettled sense of security on a daily basis.

In the midst of chaos there always seems to be some whisper of a joyful peace. Peace in the sweet sound of a baby deep in slumber. I am particularly fond of the hush that hangs in the wee early mornings. The sound of a cat's purr can calm my heart so quickly.

Where do you find peace in your day?

In the coming days I wish you joy, comfort and a peaceful heart.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Core Strength

I woke up this week determined to get back on track with my yoga. I never imagined the benefits that I would receive from yoga. Yoga helped me pre-diagnosis and has been so beneficial post diagnosis.

At first I was considerably weak and trying to find my balance was very difficult. I immediately found benefit from the deep breathing techniques alone so I kept returning to my new practice. With each new, more challenging pose I was pumped. I didn't care if I was falling over with the Dance pose, I just did Downward Dog, dawgs! Booyah! 

When I got a Wii for Christmas years ago I had to bump up my game. My Wii yoga instructor was merciless and showed no pity. She didn't care that I was wobbly from the effects of a chronic illness flare. She was all business and as far as she was concerned, you were to hang your chronic illness, mommy woes and midlife crisis issues outside her studio. "Nina" was tough. 

"Oh, you're a little shaky there," she had the nerve to tell me when frankly, I was lucky to have shuffled to my mat that morning. "How well does she know me really?" I would think to myself.

There were a few outbursts of profanity. I'm not proud of it but really. My knees looked like heads of cauliflower from the joint swelling and she had the nerve to point out that I was a little shaky? 

I switched instructors and I sort of liked "Paul" for a while. His voice was encouraging and if I was having a rough go of it he would rally me on. 

"Oh, I see you're a little shaky there. Doing yoga every day will strengthen your core muscles," he explained. I could feel him rooting me on and I began feeling proud of the accomplishments of being awarded new poses. 

Then life and Sjogren's Syndrome kept me away from my yoga mat. A long flare kept me buried under blankets and yoga was furthest from my mind. As with many illnesses, Sjogren's reeks havoc on a person's sense of strength and stability. If you're not careful it can chip away at how you think of yourself. It can make you feel weak and out of balance. 

After every flare my trips back to my yoga mat taught me that the strength really doesn't go away while you take leave. I was always pleasantly surprised to see that deep at the core of me, my strength remained. 

This is such valuable lesson that yoga has taught me. I AM strong, aren't I? I might have been down before but I'm standing tall now. I'm not my stupid Sjogren's anymore than you might be your hardship sidekick. We are all stronger than we know. It's deep in our core, the very light of our spirit. "Nina" was right to expect more of me. 

Hubby found this video which chronicles Arthur Boorman's transformation due largely to yoga but more in part to being shown that his strength never really left in the first place. 

For more on the benefits of yoga:

Saturday, November 3, 2012

A Fashionable Fall

Fashion Bubble Safety Helmet

You know who you are. My peeps, buds and fellow falling friends. I mean this in all seriousness- you need one of these.

Days are pretty turbulent out there lately and I think until the world's equilibrium rights itself, we're all safest with our bubble helmets on.

If we're not physically falling and hurting ourselves we're dodging all of the negativity that seems to be lurking around every corner these days. I think it would be wise to wrap our whole selves up with bubble wrap until everything calms down.

With this blog I wanted to examine the notion that I could learn to fall better. Falling is a sort of necessary tutor of life I know. The physical falls and the life lessons seemed to take me by surprise and knock me on my keester. I never saw it coming a majority of the time.

That's where the fashion scarf that bursts open even before the body can react seems like a smart accessory for everyone's fall wardrobe. (Ah ha...fall wardrobe!)

The Hovding, pictured above is an actual self inflating bicycle helmet. It's branded as being fashionable and safe. It's important to look really good when you're about to wipe out I suppose. The helmet deflated is worn around a neck like a scarf. It comes in many colors to blend in with any outfit you wear.

Well, on:

This thing is so cool! I know that the 2 Swedish women Anna Haupt and Teresa Alstin invented the helmet to be used as a safety device. I believe once the world learns more about the fashion bubble helmet we'll all be donning them. We need these things!

"What the...PfffPoof! 

Now, not only can you fall with grace you can fall fashionably as well.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Do Good When You Feel Good

It feels good to do good when you feel good. - Amy Junod

Brilliant quote. As redundant as it might seem when reading that line it really is a good feeling when you find yourself feeling well after being down for so long.

My son and I launched our first Love Letter the other night inspired by The World Needs More Love Letters.

We bought the brightest color balloon that Party City had and tied our note to the end of the dangly string.

It was a beautiful night for balloon launching. The sun was setting and it was breezy. We set our intentions that our little note get lofted into the autumn air and fall ever so gracefully into the path of someone needing a boost.  

First, I have to tell you how fun it is to let a balloon free. Balloons are like magic spheres of fun. Serious fun. 

Releasing the balloon I felt a surge of warm, uplifting energy. So many happy thoughts ran through my head. My son and I pondered about how far it might be carried. Would a person notice the bright yellow balloon first or the bright green note? 

We may never know the journey that our little love noted balloon has taken. It just feels good to have taken a little time while I felt good to do something really good for someone...good. 

See the tiny yellow dot?

Try it. Try it please. Nothing will uplift your spirit and get you back up on your feet like a powerful intention to help another. What a fun way to extend your hand out and lift someone up after a tough fall. 

I think I'm getting the hang of this falling with grace thing. 

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Loving Kindness Through the Mail

My mother recently came across some letters that had been sent to my Grandmother. Grannie  treasured the letters that were sent to her, even if it was a quick note on a card. She would re-read each letter and instantly recreate the same joy as if it was just received that day. She enjoyed phone calls and visits but she really cherished those letters. Postal love a friend calls it.

In an age where everything is digital and on a screen of some sort it really is a special thing to receive a hand written note via old fashioned postal mail.

A few years back a friend of mine mailed me a beautiful message written on a beautiful stationary note card. It was just a quick "I'm thinking of you" kind of a note but it came at the most perfect time. Things were utter chaos in my life back then and that note was something simple that I could hold in my hand. I carried it around in my purse for weeks and I received the same long lasting joy that my Grandmother experienced as I would open it again.

A few years ago Hannah Brencher started a random act of kindness movement that would not only change her own life but countless others. Recognizing her own need for "postal love" she began leaving loving notes of encouragement around her.

"Moving to New York unraveled me and I needed a way to cope and step outside of my own loneliness", she wrote.

She began blogging about the letter writing and started a beautiful act of kindness movement. Her idea seems so simple. The world doesn't need another website, it needs more love letters. Her site The World Needs More Love Letters  is a brilliant display of how one person can create loving grace.

Be inspired by listening to her tell her story:

I'm in. I'm all in. I believe in the power of little acts of kindness. What might seem random isn't really all the random at all. I'm certain of the power of human kindness and how that loving energy weaves itself around the universe. God's network is greater than we can ever comprehend. If we send a good vibe out there, God will make it connect in his majestic way. 

I just want to add something cool to the whole "God's got a hand in this" message I'm trying to convey. I ran into the office supply store to pick up some needed supplies. As I walked up I was thinking that I wished there were some inexpensive cards or stationary for my own addition to Hannah's movement. I found sets of note cards and stationary marked down to 25 cents! That's a quarter of a dollar people! How cool is that?

Grab your favorite pen. Pull out that stationary you've always wanted to use. Need some encouraging words today? Try jotting what you would love to hear yourself on a note and send it out to lift another's spirit. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Don't Order the Regret...You'll Regret It

I've been waiting for a nice cool morning for a while now. The garden has needed tending and the weather people promised a cool front that would drop temps down into the 60's. Mother Nature delivered a beautiful morning today which is a huge treat over the 104 degrees we tackled yesterday.

Coffee mug in hand, field jacket over my jammies and clomping in my garden boots I set out to enjoy the treat of a cool morning. I had anticipation as if it was a snow day and I was running out to play. 

I sat a bit while sipping my coffee so that I could catch my barings. While I enjoyed my caffeinated goodness I watched our visiting hummingbirds buzz around the patio. One of our feeders has pretty flowers painted on the sides. The artist drew beautiful petals that really throw one little fella off. At first he'd feverishly peck at the glass. "Tick! Tick! Tick!" Now, he drinks from the spout but every now and then presses his beak against the painted flower petals.  

Once the coffee kicked in I took off around the corner to get some work done. I had forgotten how much joy and peace it gives me to piddle around out there. Pacing myself so that I wouldn't over extend myself I snipped back summer plants. 

It was a tough year for gardening. The heat was really hard on everything, including me. I just didn't have it in me to tend to each plant like I should have. As I snipped apart my basil plants I was sad that I didn't keep up with them to harvest the seed. A butterfly fluttered by and I was mad at myself for not starting dill plants inside so it would be ready for the swallowtail arrivals. 

If only...I should've...If I would've...I wish I had...YUCK! What the heck was that? Was that the foul stench of REGRET lofting it's way into my happy space? Yes. Yes it was. 

Regret is one of the useless of emotions that we posses as humans. How much energy do we drain on regretting when we can really use that energy in the current moment? 

Look, none of us are perfect and if you're trying to pick yourself up the last thing you need to be focusing on is stupid stuff that happened in the past. It will taint your frame of mind and you'll never see clear to a happy day with stupid regrets weighing you down. 

If you find yourself facing the same topic that you find regretful perhaps it's time to address it head on. Maybe jot it down on a piece of paper and "pros and cons" it out until you can find a conclusion. 

I don't regret not posting the pic I snapped of my Mom, pre-op for eye surgery on Facebook. It was hilarious really. She looked so cute with her hat on, garage sale type dot sticker over the eye to be operated on. Her expression was priceless and I just knew my sis would love it. My Mom said that it wasn't fair and it wasn't nice. Well...I am nice. And I could hear my Dad's voice say that it wasn't nice. So, I deleted it. That I still regret. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

The Little Things

Sometimes life sends you little prompts or nudges that are supposed to help you through your day. Sometimes the signs are so subtle that they are easy to overlook. Sometimes it takes many many times before I finally "get it". I must exhaust my guardian angels who are probably in charge of steering me into the direction of God's beautiful messages and signs.

Today I've noticed a theme of thoughts and intentions for the day. Notice the little things.

First this piece of art caught my eye:

Since my last post I've been in a sort of rehab while my body recovers from being pushed to it's limit. The little things in life seem to be more challenging every day and I feel a sense of triumph in the simplest of tasks. 

I like to take breaks from my day when I'm finding it hard to catch my breath and I wander around I clicked on the "Word For the Day" and look what I saw:

Sometimes it's the little things we miss the most. We look back at a moment in life that might have seemed so insignificant at the time but we would give anything to be in it again. Usually it's the little things we remember. One moment can be filled with so many tiny simple things. 

If the simple things in life can posses so much power to create a sense of loss, the same simple things in this present moment can be equally rewarding. Sometimes it's the little things that we come to rely on that give us the most peace. 

One of my secret pleasures is pulling a load of towels out of the dryer. That fluffy, warm, spring fresh scented load of laundry is heaven to me. Some days my muscles are too weak to hold the towels up to fold them. That warm, fluffy, spring fresh feeling is not to be wasted so I will toss myself upon the mound and roll in it's goodness. 

What are the little things you've come to rely on? What can you spot in this moment that you might have overlooked if not specifically seeking it? Perhaps you have a pet at your side or you're wearing your favorite pair of jeans. Maybe you have an exceptional cup of coffee.

Today I wish you plenty of simple blessings and signs to let you know that God is watching over you and providing strength in each moment. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

I Feel Like I Won the Gold

In my last blog post I explained that the next couple of weeks would be a blur. A crazy blur of days I had begun to refer to as "Ohn Mamie's Bug Camp". My niece, aka "Bug" was going to stay with me for a week of fun and folly. Bug was going to stay with Aunt Amy, er, "Ohn Mamie" for a whole week?

Life with Sjogren's Syndrome has made me less rapid firing with my acceptance of any commitment. Just because I have an auto-immune disease doesn't mean that I can't still find joy. I just have to turn my limitations into alterations. I wanted this. I wanted it bad.

Not unlike the mental toughness and physical excellence that Olympic Athletes must posses, I too felt as though I won the gold this past week. Not only did I survive "Ohn Mamie's Bug Camp" but I think I nailed the landing.

After a week of hair braiding (with dozens, no DOZENS of hair bands), PlayDoh crafts, trips to local libraries, swimming, gardening, more crafts, baking and cat taming, I believe the judges would sympathize and give me gold.

I prepared. I did. I stored my body's energy for the big show. My body needed to be at it's peak performance level and I didn't chance an injury on anything frivolous. 

After a week of fun visiting the family my sister dropped my niece off. She delivered her along with enough work books, PlayDoh, naked barbies, costume wigs and props to rival any off Broadway show. (Off, off Broadway)

My plan was to wow the judges with a stellar routine that could be tweaked if needed to accommodate any ailment from a rigorous event. (Downtime needed daily to off set Sjogren's symptoms)

Just like the athletes that compete in the Olympics, I had my team of handlers. Bug handlers you might call them. They all rose to the challenge. The time change was a bit difficult for them to snap back from. Four year olds run on a whole different time table. Failure to yield to the current time could be catastrophic.

Give a kid a camera...
"Unka Davin" and Play Doh
DJ Bug

Even the cats played a part. Our oldest got to play Repunzel .

Bug and I 

As Olympic athletes get drilled by reporters I too was pummeled with question after question. Why, why and more why. Never once did I muster a "because I said so!". Instead I tried my best to come up  with an answer that would not spawn another followup question.

Shopping with Bug...she calls this "coasting". 

After all of the strenuous preparation and week's worth of body and patience crushing competition I can honestly say that I am proud of my performance. I went out there, gave it my best with somewhat fearless ambition and nailed it.

All of the preparation. All of the effort and it was all over with in a flash. I packed up my niece with fresh baked cookies, a little caterpillar burrowed safely under dirt in a plastic corn puff container, baby basil plants and her off Broadway gear.

Some people measure their success in gold. My gold was hearing my niece say, "I had so much fun at my first ever Ohn Mamie Bug Camp." This implies that there will be another.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Which End Is Up?

Which end is up? In a matter of hours my world will be thrown into a living breathing vortex affectionately referred to as da Bug (my preen-cess of a niece).

My sis will roll into town, catch up on some much needed R & R and then will squeal out of town in a cloud of Texas dust.

Ohn Mamie's Summer Camp will begin. I'm Ohn Mamie by the way. Ohn is what aunt sounds like  southern style. Mamie is Amy, or at least what Amy sounds like to a baby. My niece has names for everyone. Even though she can say our real names now, we'll always be referred to as the names she's bestowed upon us. We've all embraced the names, even Aunt Candy who has for some reason been dubbed Unka (Uncle) Candy.

I was so very excited when my sis asked if we would keep my niece for a week. Very excited and then very afraid. Ok, I admit there have been moments of panic. Panic is bad. Panic is fear and I swear kids can smell it.

Remembering the quote that my niece screamed through her house after a day of church camp, "With God I can do anything!"

I can do this. I can do this with some simple yet tactical maneuvers. I'm pulling out all the stops, drawing from my experience being PTA Room Mom, Cub Scout Den Mom and my experience working kid auditions. It's all about the planning. Plan A, then plan B and always have plan C.

My family is on full alert and at the ready. My son will make good use of those skills learned from Scout National Leader Training and from ROTC. My stepson taught skateboarding classes and has a keen perspective on what and could happen when kids get bored. These skills the boys posses are of immeasurable significance.

Unka Davin (Uncle David) who is also Silly Unka Davin on occasion will be allowed to let his inner child run free, uninhibited by Ohn Mamie's glare of disapproval. Untethered, I imagine he will have as much fun as my niece. We may have to make some plans for Unka Davin too.

So kind folks, bless me. Bless me good. I really am a bit concerned that my stupid Sjogren's Syndrome will remind me that I am in fact human. Super Ohn Mamie will have to pace herself and keep a firm sight on what's up and down. Oh what a lovely thought it is to know that if I crash it'll be because I've had a blast!

Seriously though, bless me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Love Grows

Love is the seed of all hope. It is the enticement to trust, to risk, to go on. - Gloria Gaither

Months ago I started a little craft project that proved to be frustrating and rewarding at the same time. Much like real love it requires patience, tending to, and strength when challenged. In the end love grows and grows. 

Using cardboard letters that I purchased from Hobby Lobby I carved off the top and center of each piece. 

I coated the inside and outside of each letter with Mod Podge. I did 2 heavy coats then put some holes in the bottom for drainage.

I originally filled each letter with Jiffy Seed Starting soil and sprinkled grass seed on top. 

It worked brilliantly and after days of spritzing the soil up popped little shoots of green.

One evening a storm blew through the Dallas area and my L and O flew off of the shelving unit outside. The Jiffy soil was so loose that the seedlings couldn't be stuck back together. I replanted with my favorite potting soil and before long I had new sprouts. 

Many weeks later I have lush green letters of love. They even needed a little trimming.

There is a great article with instructions on how to make your own cardboard letters out of empty cereal boxes. Check out Crystal Brown's super tutorial on her site

Love grows.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

I Have People

I've found myself under the weather again. I had a gut wrenching stomach bug sandwiched in between Sjogren's flares. This sandwich came as a combo deal too. The boys had end of year finals and we have one boy graduating. I know, I know...those are their weights not mine but any mom will tell you the end of year paperwork is relentless. You have to be on your best game to keep up with everything. It is no time to choke on your chaotic life sandwich combo. "Do you want fries with that?" 

I felt defeated again. I was lying in a wasted lump of humanness with empty Clorox wipey containers and Lysol cans on their last squirt of bio hazard magic. It got me. Damn it, it got me again!

I started to sob. David came and hugged me. "Yeah, this part is the worst of it. It's that second wave that really hurts." He was talking about the virus thing. I was sobbing about the whole shebang.

"I just don't have time to be sick! I can't be sick. The boys can't be sick. They have finals," I sobbed then flopped back into my disheveled bed.

I had to give it up. I had to give in. I was wasting so much energy on worry that I was going to for sure turn this what ever it was into something that would last a week.

It was time to call in the big guns. The Boss. God.

When you find yourself in one of those whirl wind storms that life can suck you into, let it be. Sometimes it's totally out of your hands and the best thing you can do is just offer it up. Delegate the angst to your angels and then they forward it on up to God. Who better than God? Who knows what you're up against more than the Master himself?

You have to really let it go though. God doesn't like to be micro managed. He doesn't. Who does really, right?

One of my favorite quotes from Wayne Dyer is "Good morning, this is God. I will be handling all of your problems today. I will not need your help, so have a miraculous day."

How awesome a thought is that? I often wonder what it would be like to have "people" to handle the day's chores, tasks and challenges. People with people get to sit back and do what they do best, what ever that is.

It must take a lot of trust though. There must be a sense of trust to relinquish important tasks into other hands. Capable hands they must be.

Well...I have people. In fact David reminded me of that this week when he said,"You must know someone high up. God took care of your garden for you while you were sick." He was right. It rained for days in a row. Perfect rain, off and on. God ordered the rain and the angels helped fend off the pests.

I have people. Have your people call my people and we'll do lunch. (Nothing too spicy, ok?)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Rip Tide of Life

Art credit:
Sometimes life can be like a rip tide whirling and pulling you swiftly away from the safety of the shore. 

Lessons for surviving a rip tide aren't unlike lessons for surviving crisis in your life. 

When you get caught up in a rip tide the worst thing you can do is panic. Many times it happens so quick you don't even know that you've been pulled out so far. 

For many people their first instinct is to start swimming toward the shore. The tide is so swift and it makes it impossible and in most cases just pulls your body out further. 

Panic and swimming against a fierce current just wastes your energy. 

The way to swim out of a rip tide is to look toward the shore and swim parallel to it. You might feel the current still pulling you but if you keep paddling gently you will begin to swim out of the current. 

Once your out of the rip tide you can swim back to shore. If you're in the ocean you can even just relax your body and let the waves swoosh you back to shore. 

If you're in the rush of ripe tide of life I wish you peace. It might be your first instinct to panic but try, try, try as hard as you can not to flail about in panic. Find your shore, your center and instead of racing toward it swim along side of it. 

Just as swiftly as life was pulling you into chaos, you can release yourself of trying to push against a current. You'll find yourself floating effortlessly. Finally buoyantly you can float with the natural order of the flow and be gently drifted back to the safety of the shore. 

“The secret of success is to be in harmony with existence, to be always calm to let each wave of life wash us a little farther up the shore.” Cyril Connolly

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Apples Don't Fall Far From the Tree

It seems fitting that Grannie and the GoGo Boots is my all time most read post. It's been a year since my grandmother passed away and I think she'd be pleased that her story is taking top billing.

I found out the icky way that sometimes when you follow a link back to a site that's referred to your blog it's not a good thing. It's a despicable practice that perverts do and it's upsetting because they target cancer blogs, grief support blogs. My grandmother probably would've said, "Don't they have anything better to do with their lives?" I think probably not. 

There was a link to a homework page for an Honors English course. I found this kind of funny. Falling With Grace was under the category of new forms of writing such as blogs. I think Grannie would just love that other kids were reading the story and maybe getting something from it. 

I loved my Grannie and her zest for life. During the last months of her life she would often comment about having regret about not traveling to Ireland. 

My mother and aunt decided this year that they didn't want that same regret and agreed to go tour Ireland together. They left this week to fit in a toast to Grannie and to celebrate my mom's birthday. 

Remember the story about how my grandmother left one weekend to drive to the very southern tip of Texas? She didn't tell anyone where she was going and it made my mom furious. Apples don't fall far from the tree. 

This week after not hearing from my mother my sister and I were a little upset too. We figured that she was off having a great time and just not taking the time to at least let her daughters know she made it safe! 

We posted funny pictures and comments on her Facebook page...
Have you seen this woman? If so, do not, REPEAT DO NOT approach! She should be considered dangerous...and armed with a fanny pack consisting of kleenex, Nitro patches and a cellphone (powered off....)

When day 5 arrived and there was still no word we were really worried. She didn't even check in to see how her precious cats were. This was just not like mom. 

When did that happen? When did we become the worried ones and she became the one hooting it up from pub to pub? Hmph. I don't like this. I don't like it one bit. 

We finally did hear from her. She was having cell phone issues and finding another phone was an issue. 
"They don't have phones at the bed and breakfast?" I snapped back as if I might have heard that myself occasionally. My mom quickly changed the subject. I taught her that move. 

I can't help but picture Grannie along for the ride over there. She'd be an awful back seat driver though. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

You Have Permission

I'm writing today from my patio as it's an unusually mild spring day here in Dallas. I'm taking a break from everything hectic and declaring time to myself just to breathe.

I have yet to figure out who conspires to make things as crazy as they are this time of year. So much gets crammed into a few weeks. So much is due, time seems at a negative balance and life just seems to run us all over. 

Not today. I'm giving you permission to take time to breath. OK, perhaps one more sip of coffee but THEN breathe. 

Are you finding it hard to catch your breath? It's sometimes difficult, I know. I'm not sure if you even think about it unless yours is labored due to illness. 

Breath is the root to meditation and yoga. Here is the cool thing though-you don't need a yoga mat or soothing music to find your breath. It's amazing how our body responds to some quick, deep breaths. I'm not sure of a quicker, cheaper way to aid our body than to take some deep breaths. 

Try it. Go ahead. If you're reading this on your smart phone, tablet or computer just take in a big deep breath. Hold it...hold exhale slowly. Now again only this time feel how the air sort of cools your nose as the air passes through. Breathe in............hold it...hold let the air pass through your lips. As your lips tickle from the warm breath can you feel your lungs empty? 

If you're still having a hard time noticing the effect of your breath imagine that you're blowing into a pinwheel. This is a great tool that you can pick up at the dollar store even. (or swipe from the Geico pig) 

If you're pressed for time I bet that you can spot a dandelion outside. Pluck one out of the grass (don't forget to make a wish) and send those little seeds flying along with your troubles, aches and worries. 

For more on benefits of breathing exercises check out: 

Monday, April 30, 2012

Ohn Mamie's Fairy Garden

My Dad's nickname for me was Tinkerbell so it comes as no big surprise that I'd have a fondness for fairies.

When my favorite garden shop North Haven Gardens started selling Fairy Garden furniture I fell in love. For Valentines Day I asked Hubby for some pieces. Diamonds might be forever but furniture that might entice a little fairy to hang out is priceless.

The plan is simple. Build a fairy garden and a garden fairy comes to hang out. The garden fairy then invites other fairies over for coffee, tea or glass of wine. The suggestion that she make the acquaintance of a cleaning fairy will be delivered cleverly.

So here is my fairy garden:

 The box frame is repurposed wood from my Mom and Dad's old porch bench. 
We salvaged some wood from Eisenburg's Skate Park where my stepson worked. 

Hubby added the base. 

Ohn Mamie's Fairy Garden 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Graceful Clutter

I've been falling behind and I think I've figured out why. After a quick scan across my desk it's like looking at one of those shows where they ambush a person, "out" their cluttered working space and then reorganize everything.

Looking at my desk I can't help wonder what my OO (Overly Organized) friends would think if they stopped in. One friend even organizes professionally. She knows me too well to even attempt change.

Lets see...a quick scan from left to right reveals:

On the left side of my desk sits my cellphone. Just got through talking to my sis about how I MUST stop watching my niece (the preen-cess) via the webcam at school. It makes me gasp and she doesn't listen when I shout out "No!" (My sister told me that my niece tells the other kids to wave and smile at the camera..."Say hi to Ohn Mamie!") 

My camera sits with the cord still stuck in it. I planted green beans yesterday and downloaded the pictures for my niece to see. I also took a few shots of a craft project and video of the kitten "helping" me. 

Buttons. I have two buttons that have popped off of 2 coats. Both coats are red. I pointed out to my ex- marine husband how easy it will be to sew on 2 buttons with the same color thread. Sewing is something that they teach in the Marines you know. They do.

2 MP3 players. One has some recordings, meditations and music. I have an iPod which holds the other music hostage because I didn't buy them through iTunes. I could figure out a way to merge the 2 but not without frying my eyes out and draining myself of precious patience.

My earbuds are laying in a twisted mess. They have fallen victim to kitten teeth but still work. I love to plug in to my meditations. This helps me with pain relief more than I ever knew.

Oh, I have a stack of receipts from stores offering the chance at big bucks just for telling them how satisfied I am. I told myself that I would not clutter my desk or life up with these anymore. After not winning the big lotto last week the chance at winning money for giving my opinion seems fair again.

I have my brother's Mad Magazine figure. He inspires me, sort of. Sometimes he holds my Dad's old pen which makes me smile. Seeing both items together makes me happy because it reminds me that my Dad and Brother are together in Heaven.

Ooo...just found a cork from a bottle of Chateau Montelena Chardonnay. Hubby and I watched the movie Bottle Shock which is about a vineyard in California. It's a great movie and the wine is even better!

I have a Post It note with ideas for my fairy garden. Yes...if you build it, they will come. I already have a miniature bistro table for my garden fairy to have coffee with another fairy she'll invite over. I will suggest to my garden fairy how nice it will be to make the acquaintance of a housekeeping fairy. Hubby is building my fairy garden frame. Just realizing that I love Hubby very much. Not every man would spend time sewing buttons or building fairy gardens.

Finally I can't deny my stack of papers that sits on the corner of my desk. It's the stack of stuff that I'm afraid to sift through. Each piece of paper requires some level of concentration or use of eye muscles. I'm short on energy for both tasks so the pile sits. Each day I say to myself, "I'll tackle that when I feel better tomorrow."

I'm declaring it "Who Cares What My Desk Look Like" day. Lift your fists high in the air fellow clutter bugs! Embrace your Post It Notes and skillfully stacked papers! This is your space! This is your time!

Oh...gotta go. Just spotted a free Ben and Jerry's coupon under my laptop!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Bouncing Back

I love how life works. I'm still pleasantly surprised when life works it's wonderful magic that it makes me stop and say, "Wow".

Months ago I "liked" the Facebook page for Positively Positive. I love having positive images and uplifting stories peppered in between family/friend postings. I particularly enjoyed artwork and written pieces contributed by Karen Salmansohn.

If her name is familiar to you it might be because her work has been published in O Magazine. Her articles are witty, informative and always spirit affirming.

One of her books, The Bounce Back Book caught my attention. "How to thrive in the face of adversity, setbacks, and losses."

Well. If that doesn't sound like something Falling With Grace worthy, what is? Feeling relatively well at the time I ran out to buy the book. When I picked up the book I giggled at the texture of it. The outside is covered in rubber ball material. Fun! 

As feeling well usually goes for me, I didn't listen to my body's whispers and I pushed myself too hard. I crashed bad. I was laying in my bed feeling my broken self start to take over. 
"This sucks." I mumbled to myself. Self pity party in 3...2...1- 
"Bridget! Damn it! Stop it!" I shouted at the kitten as she was digging her claws into something on the floor by my desk. 

I flopped my head over the side of the bed and like a BAZAM from God, there nabbed under Bridget's kitten claws was Karen's book. 

I wriggled out of my Snuggie and plopped down to save my book from certain shredding. Suddenly instead of flipping through the pages as someone reviewing the book I was reading as someone desperate for help. 

I think that's what is so great about Karen's work. There are so many perspectives to the points she makes. Pages that at first made me think, "Oh, yes...great point" were re-read making me think, "Oh, damn...I'm really doing that." 

In her book Karen Salmansohn guides you through 75 different life tips to help you get back on your feet. After each tidbit of advice there is a lesson assignment. Sometimes the most powerful impressions are formed when you come up with solutions yourself. The lesson assignments really plug those ideas and send them home to be tools for a lifetime. 

In one of my earlier posts I wrote about how powerful words can be. For me seeing visual cues for my subconscious work very well. Affirmations woven into the art are whimsical and bright. 

Check out Karen's website to be happily inspired. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

My blog has been honored with the Liebster Blog Award. I was given this recognition by fellow blogger Jazzcat who also suffers from Sjogren's Syndrome.  Sjogren Life shares the daily struggles of living with Sjogren's. It's written in French and I fully admit that I like to try and read it before translating.

I'm not sure there's a tiara involved but I do understand that the honor gets passed on. So as my reign ends (wait, I get to keep the sash, right?) I acknowledge other blogs that I admire. 

Many of the blogs that I've subscribed to have more than 400 readers or are well established so I've been on a journey to find others. I have been deep in the middle of the interwebs and have stumbled on so many touching stories of journeys, life and love. 

From my circle I share Make This Look Awesome by Pamela Curtis. She intends to put a positive spin on chronic illness. 

Angie Brooks writes Angie...unplugged. Angie writes about life and challenges it to be ordinary. It's fun and refreshing to read from the perspective of a busy Mom.

Chelsey Fernandez writes HOPE Helping Other Patients Everywhere. Chelsey describes being diagnosed with Children's Primary Angiitis of the Central Nervous System at 17. PCNSV is rare and is another account of the human immune system getting the signals wrong. In the case of PCNSV it attacks blood cells in the brain. 

I found Lupus, Humor and Wellness by Carla Ulbrich. This is a fun site. Lupus, Humor and Wellness, Think Outside the Prescription Bottle adds a dose of humor. 

Last blog is written by my son Cole who writes One Song For Glory. He writes about finding that one perfect song. I'm not sure if this is just a metaphor...I wonder if he knows? He also dabbles in fiction. He really does play guitar in the backyard wearing a fedora too. 

Please scroll down to the list of blogs that I read. They are all very informative and fun. 

Reasonably Well which is written by Julia has been a life saver for me since being diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome. Four years ago I left my doctor's office really frustrated that there wasn't more information he could give me. I searched and found Julia's site. More than just being a great source of information on living well she's really hysterical. 

Love to all... pageant queen waves...kiss, kiss. Now, where is that box of donuts? 

Friday, March 9, 2012


Years ago there was a simple expression that passed the lips of many a cool kid. So simple this expression that it consisted of only one word. What word you ask? Word. 

Word. Go ahead and say it out loud. Word. Now say it like you know you used to say it. Word. If so inclined you can even add the hand gesture and shoulder bow. Again...word. has 3 slang uses: 
  1. Well said
  2. Said in a agreement
  3. Can be used as a greeting, hey what's up
While word can be used to convey a positive confirmation of a statement the use of words have a profound power. A few words strung together can have a positive effect and they can also have a very negative effect. 

Years ago I started using affirmations as a way to clear the negative thoughts that were weighing me down. I just could not stop picking up others' words and putting them into my own voice. 

The use of affirmations had such an immediate and positive effect in my life. It was as if I was flushing my mind of bad and replacing it with the good. 

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway by Susan Jeffers is an awesome book that explains the use of affirmations in great detail. She has a great list of affirmations to start out with that are a great foundation for getting back on your feet. 

Another useful tool to clear the clutter of negative words from your mind are the use of recorded affirmations or scripts. I found this particularly useful because I think I was unconsciously absorbing good stuff. 

In most of the recordings you are instructed to repeat the phrase which puts the positive words into your own voice. I admit that there were days that I would repeat the phrases while gritting my teeth and talking very snarky. "I love people." and "I can't wait to start my day!" 

There are lots of themes and topics out there for any struggle you might be facing. You may find many  at your local library, written and recorded. Many can be found online too. I encourage you to do this for yourself. It's a simple yet powerful thing that you can do to see profound results in your life. 

You deserve it. You're awesome and you're powerful beyond your current comprehension. Word. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

The Power of Hope

Hope. Hope is a powerful thing.

According to Webster's:

  • to cherish a desire with anticipation
  • to desire with expectation of obtainment
  • to expect with confidence, trust

I love this quote by George Iles-"Hope is faith holding out it's hand in the dark."

Hope is what's left after discouragement has taken a toll on your soul. I think if hope had an enemy it would be discouragement. Feeling discouraged or beaten down can be a lonely place because it questions the reality of your belief. Discouragement is that "yeah, but" part of ourselves that takes a look at the cold hard facts of an issue. It's the part of ourselves that is the number cruncher, the odds maker.

Hope doesn't care about the odds though. Hope stands up and defies the numbers. In spite of everything that discouragement can throw down to present it's case it's still possible to have hope. Hope is like knowing that someone is in your corner. No matter what punches your opponent can throw you have hope waiting by the bench with a bucket.

Recently I was lucky enough to attend a seminar through the Sjogren's Syndrome Foundation. The Dallas area group's coordinator Cathy Ingels enlisted the comic genius of guest speaker Suzie Humphreys. 

Ms. Humphreys was great. She admitted having to Google Sjogren's to learn more about it before speaking but was quick to add that we're all facing something. Whether it's a chronic illness, changing work environment or just life. We all need a good laugh in the face of unfriendly odds.

She ended the session by asking if we had any questions. I was expecting a Q and A session mostly about her time here in Dallas as a local media celebrity. In talking with members she began to learn more about Sjogren's. She was so compassionate about learning more to understand it's challenges.

In true Suzie Humphreys spirit she fired us all up. "What you need is more funding! You need to get the word out! You need someone to stand up and fight with you!" She started a rally.

I have hope. Call me silly but I know if they can grow human ears in petri dishes they can find solutions to many illnesses.

What ever struggle lie in front of you I hope that you can stand up and with faith plunge forward.

"Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul- and sings the tunes without the words- and never stops at all." - Emily Dickinson